1986 Chateau Coufran Haut-Medoc and 2005 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc

april 25, 2010: we invited alan, marie-paule and emilie over for dinner tonight for poached salmon, butter potatoes, steamed leeks, beet salad (which alan made), and blueberry-blackberry pie. the meal worked out very well. the salmon recipe can be found at www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Salmon-With-Orange-Herb-Sauce-102205.

alan brought over a 1986 chateau coufran haut-medoc, which he had in his cellar. we thought it was soft and subtle. he also brought a 2005 cloudy bay te koko sauvignon blanc from marlborough, new zealand, which he got from a friend who had purchased it in atlanta. apparently this wine was being sold for $40 per case instead of $40 per bottle -- clearly a mistake, since this new zealand sauvignon was very distinctive (it was unique because it had more of a vanilla flavor, and not what greg would call grapefruit). the vanilla probably came from the oak. even greg liked it, and he's not usually one for sauvignon blanc (which he generally finds to be too grapefruity.)


2008 Xplorador Malbec: Decent second bottle wine.

april 27, 2010: victoria thought this mendoza, argentinian, was a little stiff especially after the don ramon. but on the good side, it wasn't as rustic as she expected, though it had some acidity. the flavor was a bit black pepper. greg said that, for a $6 malbec, it was pretty good. the nose was strongly alcohol, and it began a bit sweet and ended a bit bitterly, but it wasn't bad for the price. it had hints of black currant to the flavor. 13.5 percent alcohol. big red liquors.

2007 Don Ramon Grenache and Tempranillo blend: Very good value.

april 24, 2010: this vino tinto barrica, 75 percent grenache and 25 percent tempranillo, was very good. first of all, we should say this was one of dennis' recommendations, and it was good enough for victoria to buy another bottle just for alan to try. we had this with st. louis mustard-pepper seasoned grilled pork loins, steamed carrots and canned peas.

greg said he loved it and that it was very good for the price. it was a good, subtle wine. victoria said this spaniard didn't have much of a nose, but the flavor was slightly cherry. the most noticeable aspect of this wine was its texture, which was very smooth and gentle. it was also very easy to drink, and to finish.

12.5 percent alcohol. about $10 at winetree.

2007 Strong Arms Shiraz: Smooth, drinkable.

april 23, 2010: greg had already eaten, so when victoria got home from the office, she warmed up the chicken filets he had prepared along with some leftover cauliflower. greg said the nose on this south australian was strong and initially acidic, but the texture was smooth. victoria said the texture was smooth and concentrated, with an acidic, somewhat cherry nose. it was a good, relaxing wine, only $8.99 at winetree. this was a new one at winetree, by the way. r wines. 15 percent alcohol.


2005 Beringer Merlot: A bit acidic at first, then smoothed out. Not that flavorful.

april 17, 2010: we had fought the good fight. time and time again, we had walked past the delicious scent of the schnucks rotisserie chicken, thinking we could always be more creative than *that*: but tonight, greg finally gave in. and it was, we have to admit, delicious.

we paired it with a 2005 beringer napa valley merlot, which began with a fair amount of acidity. we decanted it, smoothing out the texture to a very subtle chocolate and cherry flavor. we could have chilled this californian and studied its temporal evolution, but we were just too darn hungry for that logic. purchased at schnucks. think it was under $20.


2008 Cline California Zinfandel: Another good value.

april 11, 2010: greg picked this up at big red liquors for $8.09 (with a 10 percent half-case discount). he thought it had a good tannic yet sweet nose. the flavor began and ended sweet, with some berriness. victoria got a nose of berries and chocolate. the flavor reminded her of the smell of crayons. the color was dark plum. we paired this with grilled chicago-style seasoned steaks, potatoes, green beans and carrots. 14 percent alcohol.

2009 Alberti 154 Malbec: Good value.

april 10-11, 2010: victoria picked up this argentinian on a saturday and we finished it on sunday. greg liked it, saying it had a gentler nose than other malbecs we've had. the texture was heavy; the flavor a little sweet at first, then bitter. victoria said it had a dark, musky berriness to the nose and the texture was thick and rough. it wasn't a smooth wine, kind of rustic, but a fun bottle for about $12. 14 percent alcohol. bought at winetree. from mendoza, argentina.


Undated Bonny Doon Vineyards Blackberry Wine with Grape Neutrals "Marion": Delicious!

april 4, 2010: this was an undated bottle that alan had had in his cellar for more than a decade. it was wonderful -- not too sweet that it cloyed the taste buds, but not too bitter that it was undrinkable. alan said this wine was made with oregon grapes but bottled in california. 16.5 percent alcohol. gift.

2002 Lengs and Cooter Old Vines Shiraz Clare Valley: Good!

april 4, 2010: we had this as a starter wine at alan and marie-paule's house. it was inky and concentrated, with a strong berry flavor. 14.5 percent alcohol. gift.

2006 Bleasdale The Broad-Side Langhorne Creek Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon blend: Greg liked it, Vic not so much

april 9, 2010: we had this australian with grilled green onion brats from the newburgh butcher shop, spinach and fried red creamer potatoes with garlic, shallots, salt and herbs de provence seasoning.

greg liked this wine, which he said had a slight blackberry nose with a silky, smooth texture. the flavor was berry. victoria thought this wine was inky and concentrated, with a slight bitterness and acidity even as it came across as powerful. it became more flavorful as it warmed up in the glass, though it was still not that distinctive. there was a line of bitterness to it that she doesn't want to revisit. victoria wouldn't get this wine again, but greg would.

14.5 percent alcohol, $11.74 at sam's club.


2007 Argyle Pinot Noir: Silky, smooth, elegant, cherry flavor.

april 7, 2010: victoria worked a different schedule today, and since greg forgot his swimming goggles at home he decided not to go to tri-state for a swim. that meant dinner time, and we had just the pair of pork loins to make it with. victoria used this bbc recipe via http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/get_cooking/recipes/059.shtml and paired it with canned sweet peas and freshly peeled and steamed carrots. the recipe worked out well, though she didn't use the mustard it called for (and she used whole milk instead of 2 percent.)

as for the pinot, we had had this particular vintage and vineyard before. the difference was this time we paired it with pork and also greg was feeling much better than he had the two previous times we had had this wine. we both agreed it was silky, smooth and a good bottle. victoria thinks the general rule with new world pinots is that the more you spend, the better the bottle. this one was about $28 at winetree.